Mar 27, 2020 - Technology

China's travel ban could slow the U.S. tech product pipeline

Apple store in Shanghai

Apple store in Shanghai. Photo: Qilai Shen/In Pictures/Getty Images Images

Now that the coronavirus seems to be under control in China while it spreads elsewhere, China has announced a fresh ban on foreigners coming into the country — a move that could further complicate life for U.S. tech firms that rely on that country for manufacturing.

Why it matters: Many companies — notably Apple, but also Google, Facebook, Fitbit, GoPro and others — design their hardware in the U.S. but manufacture it in China. Typically, new products require close collaboration between U.S. firms and their Chinese manufacturing partners.

Driving the news: China will temporarily suspend entry for foreign nationals with visas or residence permits beginning at midnight on March 28, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Thursday.

Between the lines: The real key is how long the ban lasts, analysts say, noting that most companies had already paused travel to China. Another factor is the number of China-based engineers the company employs.

  • "Some jobs are harder to do remotely like being an engineer working on a new product but there is always a mix of local versus HQ people on most teams," Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi told Axios.

What's happening: A Nikkei report this week said Apple would likely have to delay the launch of new iPhones by months due to the virus outbreak.

Go deeper...Timeline: The early days of China's coronavirus outbreak and cover-up

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